Coping with a stressful season... sober.

Updated: May 11, 2019

(Originally posted on

Lately life has been BUSY! Like too busy. After I got done doing all my cartwheels from celebrating my first year of sobriety, I sat back down to reality---> stay-at-home-mom life + intermittent single-mom-mode + three BRUTAL courses for my current masters program.

Folks, I've been on the STRUGGLE BUS! Don't panic, though! Booze is nowhere in the picture, nor am I even tempted to pick up the bottle. Sure, in the past, this is the EXACT sort of mindset that would send me straight to the store to find the best deals on those big boy wine bottles. But I'm a far cry from that girl who would succumb to the sweet escape.

However, I've been struggling because I seem to have lost my balance, my groove. I was sailing along, feeling like I had this whole school + mom + wife + life deal on lock and WHAM! I'm hit with fifteen weeks worth of exercise physiology, kinesiology, and personal training specifics that have my mind SPINNING! (Counseling the mind and students' emotions = easy. Learning what's underneath the skin = HARD!)

"So what are you gonna do about it?"

That's what I asked myself the other week, and I immediately decided to seek a solution rather than an escape. (Do you see it? I'm COPING! SOBER!)

After an intense wave of anxiety I put in some thought and came up with this baby list of ways to save sanity during a stressful season. Perhaps you might also benefit from these things when adulting becomes too hard for you, too!

Squeeze in self-care

Part of me wants to say, "Well, I don't have time right now! Like, seriously!?! Have you seen my 'To-Do List' or my assignments and readings? Have you seen the kids' schedules lately?"

However, you've gotta make the time because if you don't replenish your cup, you've got nothing to give! The time, though, does not need to be lengthy. Go for a quick twenty minute stroll outside. Do fifteen minutes of yoga or stretching. Take a twenty minute bath. Indulge in a power nap. Read some celebrity gossip for fifteen minutes. Journal. Pray. Create a beautiful, artsy gratitude list. Whatever it is that makes your soul happy- do that! And do it whenever, however you can- even if it's in short little bursts.

Slow down

One thing about anxiety (for me) is once the BIG wave starts forming, it's really hard to slow down the momentum of the crash. I've definitely gotten much better about coping with say, 5 foot waves, as I literally stop in my tracks and remind myself to breathe. I then start twisting negative and worrisome thoughts into positives. However, what I'd like to do more of is ride the bigger waves out (with a bit more grace).

One way to do this is to slow down. Sit. Look around. Watch the people near you (for me, it's my kiddos). Identify things around you in your head (or aloud if you need to look a little extra crazy or teach your toddler some new words). Then close your eyes. Listen to your breath. Bring yourself back to the present moment.

You must remind yourself that all those stressors are not in THAT moment. In fact, most of those stressors will not be in the next moment. Give yourself a pep talk that you will conquer, listen to your breath, open your eyes, and ride the wave with peace and grace.

Say No!

Lately, I've started practicing this magical word. However, it's not just in the sense of saying "No" to others. It's about saying, "No, Alison. Don't add more to your plate." I get SO EXCITED about so many different activities, meet-ups, hobbies, fitness challenges, etc. that I create MORE stress and anxiety. Those activities are not supposed to be stressful, BUT when you try to do them all at once while doing school + mommying + wifing, it gets super overwhelming!

If you feel yourself teetering of whether or not you should take it on, most likely you should say "No." If there is any hesitation in making a commitment, then just say "Sorry, I can't right now." And most importantly DON'T FEEL BAD about having to turn someone or something down to take care of what's at the top of your list. Remember, this is a season, not the rest of your life!

Ask for help

This one can be hard for me because I take a lot of pride in doing everything on my own. However, I've had to lean on my husband A TON lately when it comes to household duties, tending to the kids' schedules, and even with some homework help (he majored in biology, so why not?!?). I have also utilized more childcare resources lately.

But ya know what? If I don't accept the help and drop the guilt, then I'll only add to my anxiety. Help is a MUST during a stressful season, so ask away! Take advantage of others offers. Utilize resources. Accept the help graciously so you can tend to your season. You'll be able to return the favor in due time!

Prioritize what's important and rid yourself of what's not

This one sorta goes with saying "No!" But really, it's about reflecting on what's important RIGHT NOW. Make a list of everything you have or want to do. Rank them of importance. Break out the calendar. Schedule what you realistically can, and scratch the rest until the season has passed.

For example, I mentally committed to doing a weekly blog post because it brings me so much joy putting these posts together. However, when I look at the mountain of laundry, my children's eager faces, and my husband waiting for me with open arms to catch up on SNL and "This is Us," unfortunately, the blog takes the backseat. Solution? Bi-weekly posts OR simply blog when I can.

Another example- I ecstatically committed to two fitness challenges in January. There's nothing uber-stressful about either one. However, just the simple mental stress of feeling like I have to do specific workouts on specific days, post on-going pictures, check-in on Instagram or FB groups daily-ish just started to choke me a little. It was taking up more time than I have RIGHT NOW. And as hard as it was, I made the decision to remove myself from both challenges. I had to prioritize what's important at this point, and I sadly don't have the luxury of all those little moments in my days RIGHT NOW. But bet your bottom, when my time loosens up, again, I'll be ready to rock future challenges more than ever!

You gotta prioritize. Figure out what must get done and what needs to be swept to the side for the time being. Spend a lot of time on social media? Maybe it's time to set some limits. Does your house really need to be spick-and-span everyday or can you stretch it to squeeze in family time or self-care? Do you really need to make that (fill-in-the-blank) commitment or would your time be best spent on self-care?

Remind yourself- this too shall pass

Lastly, I remind myself A LOT that this really is just a season in my life. I've weathered similar seasons and survived, so I know I'll survive this one, too. But the best part is that I'm weathering this season SOBER and genuinely growing as a person!

Even when I want to pull my hair out and scream, I'm coping. I'm present. I'm accepting a hard-time in life in all its hardness. There's no escaping. There's no avoiding. There's no numbing. There's no liquid courage. It's just me vs. the season. And after only a week of putting my baby list of sanity savers to good use, my ride on the struggle bus seems a lot less bumpy.

We can do hard things, folks. We can survive tough seasons. And we can most certainly do it sober and serene!

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